A set of practical methods for use in Digital Soil Mapping

4 December 2013

Dr Brendan Malone, a recent PhD graduate from the Faculty of Agriculture and Environment, has been awarded one of Australia's most prestigious science awards: the 2013 CG Stephens PhD Award in Soil Science. The award is presented by the Australian Society of Soil Science Inc (ASSSI) for the best PhD thesis in soil science granted by an Australian university. His PhD thesis "Practicable methodologies for delivering comprehensive spatial soils information" builds a set of practical methods for use in Digital Soil Mapping.

The thesis addresses and tackles one of the fundamental requirements in digital soil mapping, i.e. to derive statistical techniques for estimation of the uncertainty of the predictant as well as new scaling techniques. More explicitly, Brendan's work makes an important contribution to digital soil mapping to derive continuous soil depth functions for estimating the spatial distribution of soil attributes for the whole soil profile and the uncertainties of these, as well as measuring the quality of the mapped soil property predictions and the uncertainties of these. In addition, this thesis also presents significant work on manipulating scales in digital soil mapping, and methods for downscaling digital soil maps.

Brendan's work has real-user applicability and is in fact used in the digital soil science community. The practicable methodologies that the thesis delivers for comprehensive spatial soil information are for example essential in Australian mapping communities and the worldwide framework GlobalSoilMap which targets to produce global digital soil maps of soil properties.

Two of the thesis examiners remarked:

  • "The purpose and the originality of this thesis is to face the big challenge … in providing comprehensive soil information that meet the real user's requirements (e.g.… The research work presented in this thesis is therefore highly significant since the targeted Digital Soil Mapping methodologies are really expected and have extensive perspectives of use over the world."
  • "This thesis represents a substantial advance for the science that underpins digital soil mapping . … The quality of the ideas and the clarity with which they are presented … resemble a publication (worth) a stand-alone book. Congratulations on compiling an excellent body of research."

Dr.Malone is currently a postdoctoral fellow working on an ARC Linkage project with the Tasmanian Government to provide soil information for guiding irrigation expansion around the state.

Contact: Dr Brendan Malone

Email: 10410f061d2420740e1b2f0d292b70403727222b29564e2502593b03